Saturday, February 19, 2011

Finding the Epic in the Ordinary

I suppose you can hardly call going to class in Ireland, or wandering around ruins for two days boring, but sadly, once you've done it a few times, it does become... ordinary. We're still hanging on to the end of the honeymoon stage. It's still exciting to see the grand castles, cathedrals, and monasteries and imagine what they were like in their day. But I'm sure that will end pretty soon. For the Irish people, it's perfectly normal to drive past a round tower or a pile of ruins. That part of their life that we are fascinated by, they find ordinary. I wonder if that's true in America. Do I miss the epic things about Minnesota and Indiana? Do I forget to see the beauty in the snow gently falling or in the corn blowing in the wind? Yeah... unfortunately I do. I feel that I have to go somewhere  to see something epic. But that's not true, there are epic things in the ordinary parts of life. I'm glad one of the girls on the trip reminded me of that today by using this phrase. And I encourage you, go looking for the epic in the ordinary!
Ok.. I'll stop the sermon now and recap this weekend. We headed to the southeastern part of Ireland to a town called Kilkenney. We left early yesterday morning. Our first stop was Jerpoint Abbey. It was cold! So we had a little trouble focusing, but thankfully we had a good guide. I enjoyed learning about the monks' lives. But the tour we headed straight to the bathrooms and stuck our hands under the hand dryers for 10 minutes to warm up again!
Then we drove to the town of Kilkenney. When we got off the bus there was a huge castle right in front of us! It looked like something in a Disney princess movie. Unfortunately, all the tours for the day were booked, so we could only go in the courtyard. From there, we decided to go get coffee. I went with 8 others to a little 3 story coffee shop called Esquires. Yes it really was little even though it was three stories tall. Our Irish professor Monte and his wife Gwen came with us. I got to hear the story of how they met. Let me just say, it is fascinating to hear the same story from a guy's point of view and a girl's point of view. The story sounds so different! Plus they are both very opinionated so they were positive their version was the right way! It was hilarious!
After our coffee break, we had to get back to work. So we walked down the street to St. Candice's Cathedral. Sorry mom, this Candice didn't spell her name like you do! But I still think you're basically a saint! Outside the cathedral was another round tower. But this one we got to go inside and climb to the top! There were 7 ladders that wound their way around the inside. Once on top, we could see for miles. It is one of the best views we've had here.
For dinner, we were given 15 euro and got to chose a pub to eat at. I had fish and chips for the first time since being here! It was fantastic! I also was adventurous and tried a popular Irish dish. Bread with chicken liver spread on top. I'm not going to lie, it was pretty good. It tasted like salty chicken in peanut butter form. Then we wandered around town for an hour before heading back to the hotel.
This morning we went to Cahir Castle. The gate at this castle was used in the movie Braveheart! Well, at least the sound of the gate was. They came and recorded the audio of the chains on the gate and the gate closing, then dubbed that over the gate in Braveheart. But apparently this castle has been used in several other movies and TV shows... none of which I knew or can remember. 
Then we went to the Rock of Cashel. When I heard we were going to look at a rock, I was kind of disappointed. So I asked Gwen if there was something special about it... was it tall, really flat, a funny shape, etc. Turns out it is really tall and big, and the stuff on top is pretty impressive. This rock is actually a really tall hill with a monastery on top. It was really impressive. From there we walked down the hill to... Hore Abbey. Yes, you read that right. That is just about the strangest name I have ever heard for an Abbey. You would think somewhere along in the building process, they would have thought that one through a little better, but no.
After all those adventures, we are back at Greystones. It was nice to have a couple days away, but I'm glad to be back. We're all really tired and a few of us (including myself) have colds. So far nothing terrible, just enough to wear us down. But we have all of tomorrow to rest up before our busy schedule resumes on Monday.

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